From Chelsea to Yorkville: My landlord was selling the building and I needed to find new roommates

  • Her roommate wanted to live alone in a studio, so she searched for a new place on SpareRoom
  • She now pays $1,550 for her share of a four bedroom with in-unit laundry and a private backyard
By Kelly Kreth  |
December 8, 2023 - 11:30AM
transitions brick underground

Daphne loves "the ease of having everything I could need on the UES."


After her landlord decided to sell her building and her roommate opted to live alone, Daphne set out to find a new apartment to share. She landed on the Upper East Side and loves her apartment (yard! in-unit laundry!) and new roomies. Here’s her story. 

I was born and raised in Rochester, New York. In May 2018, after graduating from Hofstra University, I moved to New York City to pursue a career in public relations and lived in Bushwick. 

In April 2021, after quarantining with my parents for a year, I moved to Chelsea with my family friend who had also been quarantining with her parents. We lived on Eighth Avenue between 21st and 22nd streets. 

We rented a two bedroom that had one bathroom and a living room. But to be clear, our apartment was small for what you might envision in the Chelsea neighborhood—we were not in a modern or luxury apartment building. It was one flight up in a walkup building.

My rent share was $1,275; my roommate paid $1,325 because her bedroom was slightly bigger. 

This apartment was laid out perfectly so we could really optimize the space, which made up for the size. It made me start to believe I actually had a normal-sized apartment. 

What living in Chelsea was like

I also loved the neighborhood. It’s slightly gritty in areas, but it has so much charm and is full of personality. I was also within walking distance of the West Village. 

Chelsea is perfect if you have a dog, thanks to its dog runs or the option to walk the waterfront. I have a three-year-old mixed breed named Olive. I'm not even sure how to explain what she looks like—she is ambiguous but very cute! Not to brag, but I do frequently get stopped on the street when I walk with her because people want to know what kind of dog she is or to say hi.

I never really took advantage of all the restaurants in Chelsea. I will give a shoutout to Cookshop and one of my favorite bakeries to this day—Billy’s Bakery. I also frequently worked at a cute little café called Café-Flor. 

In terms of activities, how can you not take advantage of being so close to the West Side Highway and Chelsea Market? There’s always so much going on around these areas. 

Back then, I didn’t really have to commute to work (since we were still working remotely), and even if I did, I was a 12-minute walk to my office in the Flatiron (unheard of, I know). 

[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Transitions” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to move from one New York City neighborhood to another. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

How she landed in Yorkville

My rent was raised 25 percent after the first year, and then I didn’t even get the chance to find out how much they would have raised my rent the next year because the owner decided to sell the building, forcing us out. 

It happened very fast for me. My roommate informed me she wanted to live by herself in a studio (this was in February 2022) and my lease was set to end in April. I didn’t know anyone else looking for an apartment, and I refused to pay rent for a studio. 

So I started to casually put out feelers and look for rooms to rent. I messaged a poster on SpareRoom who was looking for someone to take over her lease for March on the Upper East Side. I really liked the apartment from the photos and the prospect of living with three other girls my age. So I interviewed for the spot and the rest is history.

In my new apartment, all four bedrooms are nearly the same size except for one that is smaller. Because the rent shares were already agreed upon by the time I moved in, I'm not sure the reason for the price differences. But we do split the rent with slight variations. I pay $1,550 for my share, which is second to the highest share of $1,575. 

I did end up having to pay double rent as I signed the new lease in March and had one more month left in my old apartment. It might seem like a wild concept to some, but the NYC real estate market is all about timing and luck—and it moves fast! Also, to live with random roommates is always a gamble, but the apartment checked most of my boxes. 

We are on the ground floor, which gives us exclusive access to the fenced-in patio/backyard situation in the building. (Only our unit has access.) I never thought I’d be able to say that. The in-unit laundry is amazing—if you’ve ever experienced the stress of carrying loads to the laundromat, you know how great it is to have your own facilities. Also, I save a ton of money. I was averaging about $50 to $60 a month at the laundromat.

My new roommates were very welcome to the prospect of having a dog. They don't just tolerate her, but actually give her cuddles and play with her. They have also watched her for me from time to time. 

How she likes her new nabe

I love the ease of having everything I could need on the UES and also the neighborhood vibes it gives off. It’s pretty to walk around, and I’m so lucky to be close enough to Central Park, where I love to go running or walking. 

There’s a decent restaurant/bar scene up here, too. However I do feel like I go Downtown a lot, and it’s just not as accessible from here. I think the lack of proximity to any other neighborhood is the biggest downside. 

I’ve been slowly trying different coffee shops, restaurants, and bars so I don’t have a full list yet, but here are some recommendations: The SisterYard, Madame Bonte, Yura on East End, The Sefton, The Five Lamps, and Jackson Hole. 

My commute is longer, but normal by NYC standards! It takes me about 40 minutes. The biggest advantage transportation-wise is being close to the M15, M31, and M79 buses. Otherwise, it’s about a 12-minute walk to the Q train or a 15-minute walk to the 6 line. 

Coincidentally, even before I moved from Chelsea, I was going to a book club on the UES, and many of my friends live here. 

It’s pretty great I made such nice new friends: my roommates! I hope to make more new friends who don’t live with me—there’s a pretty active Facebook page devoted to that. 

The lease was up in July and my roommates and I all renewed, so I am staying in this neighborhood for the next year at least.  



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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